Handsome looking but only a fraction of what had been an Oscar Winning film back in the early 1930's, this re-do of Noel Coward's look at a British family turns out to be "Downton Abbey" on speed, focusing on moments rather than events. Merle Oberon and Michael Wilding are a handsome couple who face changes in life 1900-1930, losing one child in the Titanic disaster and another in World War II. There's too much meat in the full story to only make this a shell of its story, and there's where the weakness comes in. England enters war, quickly looses its beloved Queen Victoria, faces the sinking of the Titanic and deals with the onslaught of war. The couple age from young marrieds to aged couple facing memories of their tragedies, never losing their dignity even if there's a slight display of bitterness in Oberon's still grieving mother.
In a small role, Carolyn Jones stands out as the young lady one of the sons encounters and falls in love with, remembering her as a baby, the daughter of his parent's former loyal servants. Noel Drayton plays her father in earlier sequences who convinced his wife to leave the employee of Oberon and Whiting and became a lush after they purchased a saloon. This leads to a very tragic event, and much later on a confrontation between Jones' mother and Oberon which could very well be a scene out of "Downton Abbey" as the downstairs class tries to intermingle with the upstairs class and a changing climate.
Well intentioned and certainly not badly done, the "Cavalcade" episode of "20th Century Fox's Hour of Stars" just reminds me that some stories can't be cut down to fit an hour TV slot (with commercials) while others can be. Certainly, "Cavalcade" was worthy of a full modern production and would have benefited from a two hour timeslot rather than what it was given.
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